This is my friend Jen Ballantyne. Most of you know her and her amazing blog The Comfy Place. It is a journal about living–living as a single mom, living as a creative soul, living with stage 4 cancer. She writes with raw and juicy beauty.

Back in the day, when I started blogging, there were about 4 people who I knew read my blog. One magical day, a few months into the whole blogging experiment, I got a comment from Jen B. I remember the day as though it were just yesterday. It was a Thursday. My guitar had just arrived and Jeff (who had helped me buy her on ebay) was on his way over to drop it off.

It was a magical evening. Jen was one of the first “strangers” who seemed to have found my writing. Something about her comment, her name, beckoned me to learn more. I googled her and found her blog and spent the whole night reading her posts with my new guitar on my lap, saying “She is JUST LIKE ME”.

We started emailing and became faithful commenters on each others blogs. The emails started off slow and were mainly about bloggy things. Jen was (and still is) a tremendous encouragement to me, a faithful cheerleader of my growth as a writer. Jen is the whole reason I moved off that clunky ol’ vox site and onto a page of my own. She gently pushed me, encouraged me and kept me honest in my writing. She was the first person to ever sk*rt one of my posts. She taught me to believe in my writing.

One night early in our friendship, while chatting about something bloggy I confessed to her that I was about to go on my first date since separating from Juan. She immediately answered back and a whole new door of our friendship sprung wide open. We whisper our hopes and hurts, our fears and dreams, and tell stories of first loves, our youth and our now. Our emails come daily but during one particularly rough patch for me I heard from Jenni several times a day. She is my soul sister and I love her. She is a miracle.

One day before she arrived on my blog I was struggling with some aspect of single parenting that my married friends just didn’t get. Alone at night, feeling scared I shouted out in frustration: “Just Send Me Someone Who Understands!” And then, days maybe weeks later, there was Jen. In my email box. A voice who understood. Who helped me see things clearly. She is my tangible proof that I am held by Someone Greater. She is an answer to my prayers

The day in January that I came home to her email, the one with “Its Back” in the Subject line my heart stopped for a minute or a year–I don’t know. With the recent news of her latest diagnosis I find myself vacillating between hyper-hope mode and hyper-reality mode. Somedays I think of her and my heart just breaks–not only for her and Jack and the sadness and difficulty that they face but also, I hate to admit it, selfishly for myself. I can’t imagine my days without Jen in them.

Back before we knew that her cancer would come roaring back so strongly I wrote her these words

Just think, one day 20 years from now we will sit together on a beach. I will put my head on your shoulder and say, “Remember back then when you had cancer and I was recovering from the loss of Juan and we just held each other across the internet? Look at us now. How beautifully it all turned out! What a miracle! What an adventure!” And then we will laugh and toast ourselves and our beauty and faith.

While I know that things rarely play out the way we dream (and that often it is for the best), I can’t seem to wrap my head or my heart around the truths that tell me that this one is not likely going to play out exactly this way. And it can make my heart ache with echos of future grief.

The one thing I have found that helps is to give. To give to her because I can. To give to her because she is with me. To give to her to tell her what she means to me. To give to her because she is here in all her beauty and I want to celebrate her and help her and comfort her. So I research like crazy. And I make lists of acupuncture practioners in her area. And I knit for her. And I send emails. And I pray. Helping is a balm on my heart, the place that bleeds when I think about Jen’s hurts. Caring for her now is the balm on my heart, the place that bleeds when I think about the day she will not be here. Doing all these things helps take some of the sting out of the fact that she won’t be with me always and forever. They help bring me back from the thousand scenarios of the future that I can play out into my head to the now where Jen is in my email box and at the other end of the phone line. As I DO these things I am rooted in our now. A now where she still laughs at my jokes. A now where I can say to her “Look at us now! What a miracle! What an adventure”

But some days these things just don’t seem like enough. I feel like I can’t do enough by myself.

At this point many of you know about the auction for Jenni that is being organized by Bella, Jen Lemen and I. It has been an experience which has moved me beyond measure. An experience which has taught me so much about how much love there is in the world. So far so many of you have responded in such amazing ways. We already have pledges of things like jewelry, prints of original photography, handpainted beautiful items and more. We are gearing up for a magical auction the week April 25th. Every morning when I check the weloveyoujen (at) gmail (dot) com mail box I am blown away by the tremendous offerings of love and care for one of our sisters. I feel lifted up and cheered and find myself soaring on gusts of tremendous hope. You all are another answer to another of my prayers–You are tangible proof that we are all one, woven together into some beautiful tapestry. Proof that we can make the “now” magical. Proof that we are all held by Love and are all a manifestation of Love.

If you want to donate and haven’t emailed us yet there is still time. Send us a note at weloveyoujen (at) gmail (dot) com. If you want to give cash there is a button over there on my sidebar that says donate. If you click it, it takes you directly to a paypal account that we set up for cash for Jen. If you blog, please help us spread the world about the auction once its live. And if you pray, please pray. Whatever you have to give is enough.

But mostly what I wanted to do here now, what I sat down to do was say thanks. Not what you are doing for Jenni–We give out of love and the gift is its own reward. The gift of her in this world is our thanks.

No I want to say thanks for what you have done for me. How you have proved to me once again that I am, that we all are, held by Someone Greater. That we are all One. And that we are all Love.  And that is the miracle of Jenni in my life.

3 Responses to “Held by Someone Greater”

  1. maggie, dammit Says:

    Geeeez, Meg. I can see why Jen went out of her way to encourage your writing. (Love the new layout, by the way.)

    This is a lovely tribute, and that’s an incredibly touching photo.

    I just feel for you guys so much. So much.

  2. Karen Says:

    I found your blog through Jen’s and love your honest writing. The friendship the two of you have is amazing and reminds me of one that supported my through a difficult period in my life. It is a priceless gift.
    There is a power greater than ourselves out there that holds us all in its hands.

  3. Cathy Says:

    What a beautiful tribute to a person who is touching even people who don’t know her half way around the world. Her own writing and spirit are moving us to donate something valuable of our own to honor and encourage her on her journey of healing wherever it may lead. Thank you for sharing the story of your beautiful friendship. I will keep Jen in my prayers.